(I'm not sure the protocol for borrowing public photos, but here's a link to some more photos by this fabulous photographer, unbanhunter on Panoramio.)
The bridge is just over 2.5 kilometres long--one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in North America-- and when big trucks roar along it, which they do, the floor shakes in a way that feels like a small earthquake. The cycle route is a narrow track that I'm pleased to say is separated by a high barrier from those six lanes of roaring traffic. Still, riding along it feels a bit like flying over water and a bit like being shaken in some giant industrial machine. All the way across I alternated between being amazed at the views and delighted to be part of a species that had built such a fantastic structure! Watching the wide expanse of the Fraser River rushing along below, it was impossible not to be a bit nervous, but mostly I felt lucky to be alive and part of the whole big ongoing life project.
Once we reached the far side, we found a small wooded path along an old rail line and we biked along there until we reached Mud Bay Park on the coast and then--after a quick lunch of havarti, salami, sliced peppers and local cherries--we rode along the Boundary Bay dyke trail for 15 or so kilometres. This last part if the ride was the point of the whole adventure, and it was well worth the effort of getting out there. We saw herons and eagles, and plenty of some sort of wee fast hunting birds. The route is flat, with farmland along one side and a long shallow bay stretching out along the other, with tufts of strange sea plants peeking up through the mud in the low tide, and Mount Baker in the distance on the American side of the water. Near the end of that trail, we joined up with the main road system and rode to the nearest urban centre, where we put our bikes on the bus to recross the river and come back home.
The day was marvellous, sun and wind and changing landscapes. We ended up with sunburned noses and tired legs, very happy to be home in time to make a quick dinner (more bouillabaisse!) before crashing into the deep sleep that's well earned after a full day outdoors.
Next day was another day off. We got up early for mushroom, chevre and sage omelets, then walked to a cafe for the Germany-France game (hooray Germany!), walked around the city going some errands, then to a wee bar for the Brasil-Columbia match (yea Brasil!) Later we came home and read for a while, then had a simple supper: pink salmon with fingerling potatoes and steamed green beans, with jicama salad to start, and blueberries and ice cream for dessert. It's blueberry season again! Hooray for blueberries!!!!!
That's a lot of words about some outdoor stuff and food, with no mention of alcohol. Because that's how it's been lately. Life is good, and drinking (or not drinking) takes up close to zero mental space. I've been spending lots of time doing things I love to do, and there are plenty of things to do. Even watching the World Cup at the local bars, it's been a no-brainer that I'm ordering a large bottle of San Pellegrino. Some people around me have had beer, and some haven't, and either way it hasn't mattered. The only time I've considered wine was once after thinking that the fizzy water was absolutely the right thing on a hot day, and then remembering how before I would have had beer or wine and then had that headachey tired feeling that I always had drinking in the daytime.
It's been just about six months since I quit drinking this time around, which means out of the past year, I have been sober for ten of the twelve months. Time really does seem to make a difference. I'm not the same emotional mess I was in the first few months of this stretch this past winter. In fact, I don't think I've ever in my life felt this calm and happy. Now, I'm far more emotional than I used to be, but it's a different kind of emotional. Yesterday, when David Luis scored a lovely goal for Brasil, I was so moved by his reaction to it that I started to cry. My tears come easily, but they clear up easily, too, and that feels healthy to me. I'm still scared of lots of things, but it doesn't unseat me anymore. Thursday, I was once again scared by a couple of big dogs, but I called to the owners and asked them to leash the dogs, and when they did we were all very pleasant and civilized to each other about it, and I forgot about it almost immediately. In my drinking days, that kind of scary moment would unsettle me for the better part of the day.
And I still really do love sitting and sipping a pretty drink, but now it's lemon and bitters in sparkling water, or ginger juice in sparkling water, or a new favourite for me, holy basil tea.
Life is good. There's lots of joy to share, and lots of good food and drink being shared along with that. I can't tell you how happy I am that I don't drink any more. I simply never would have believed what a relief it is to be done with it. Peace and joy to you, and happy outdoor days, and some yummy food too. xo
PS Here's a wee taste of the kind of thing I like to share, my bouillabaisse recipe as requested by Rebecca after my last post:
Chop an onion and cook it quietly for a few minutes in some sort of fat. (I use bacon fat because I like it, but olive oil with a little butter to make sure the oil doesn't smoke would be good, too. I cook the whole thing on electric stove set to 3, so that's the knob set to about 4:00 on a 12 hour dial.) While that's cooking, chop four or five big ripe tomatoes and a few cloves of garlic, and once the onions start to look translucent, add the tomatoes and the garlic to the pan. They will start to cook into a sauce pretty quickly, and then I add some white wine--not sure how much, maybe a few ounces or a half cup, maybe a little more, depends on how much liquid there is in the pan. And maybe now is the time to add a pinch or so of sea salt and some coarse black pepper, but later would work, too. Take a whole fennel bulb and chop off the stalks; I set these aside to use in a stew or something, because they are a bit woody for this delicate dish. Finely slice the fennel bulb top to bottom, so the strips are find of like noodles. I usually use around half a medium bulb, but it doesn't matter much how much you use. Add the chopped fennel to the pot and cook until it softens, just a few minutes or so. Then I add a handful of fresh thyme (though tarragon would work too) and around 250 grams of fish. (I buy chopped up fish ends for cheap from the local fish store, and that always includes some salmon, halibut, and ling cod, but you could just buy a couple of small pieces of two or three different kinds of fish and see how it goes. Shellfish would make it a more festive dish if there's some around and it's not too pricey.) The fish will cook super fast, and once that's done, put it in big wide bowls and eat it up happily. This amount serves two hungry people, so you could use a few more tomatoes and more fish and fennel to make enough to serve four, especially if you added a small salad or some antipasto to start. Happy cooking, and happy eating.